PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel got emotional at a press conference on Saturday A city firefighter was killed and five others were injured when a building collapsed in Fairhill, Fifty-year-old Lieutenant Sean Williamson died in a building collapse after being trapped under rubble.
Thiel said the collapse on West Indiana Avenue is the latest in a tragic year for the Philadelphia Fire Department.
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“Due to the degree of the collapse and where Lieutenant Williamson was located in the structure, we were not able to save him,” Thiel said. “And believe me, for our members, this is another sad event in a very sad year.”
Earlier in 2022, a house fire in Fairmount killed 12 people, including nine children. this was it Deadliest single fire in Philadelphia in at least a century.
In April, a father and his three sons were killed in a house fire in Kensington. The boy’s mother survived after being pushed out of the window of the house by his partner.
“Worst of all, for any firefighter or any medic, we all swear to save lives and protect property, and at no time can we do that – whether it’s a city dweller and of course if it Be one of our own sisters and brothers, we feel this very deeply,” Thiel said. “This has been a sad year for the Philadelphia Fire Department. We are absolutely devastated.”
Williamson, a 27-year veteran and former Marine of the department, was recently assigned to Ladder 18 in the city’s Hunting Park neighborhood. Black Bunting is currently draped over the firehouse as his colleagues mourn his death and remember his service.
Paramedics declared him brought dead about 3 hours after the structure collapsed.
Thiel said Williamson was one of the department’s most experienced lieutenants. He has left behind his mother and son.
“I’m almost speechless,” said Thiel. “I haven’t cried but I’ve already cried once.”
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Mayor Jim Kenney said: “Today is a heartbreaking day for our city.”
Five others were rescued from the rubble.
Firefighters Robert Brennan Jr. and Dennis Daly are in serious but stable condition. Both are at Temple University Hospital.
Lieutenants Sylvester Burton and Clarence Johnson were both treated and released from Temple. Inspector Thomas Rybakowski was also treated and released.
“So they didn’t all make it at once… when they came out there were different levels,” Deputy Commissioner Craig Murphy said, “So maybe time has fallen quickly, some came out, one person jumped off the second floor so as not to get caught in the collapse, and then the other was systematically pulled out and removed from the collapse.”
To honor Williamson’s legacy, Kenny said that all of Philadelphia’s city flags would be flown at half-staff for 30 days.
“Sadly, we are no strangers to the death line of duty, that doesn’t make it any easier,” Thiel said. “We are deeply saddened, we are grieving, we have too much crying and a lot of processing to do as this unfolds and we will move forward by honoring Lieutenant Williamson.”
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CBS3’s Jasmine Payout contributed to this report.